prepared after some tasks are revisited and additional information is obtained—necessary steps that are important to the final determinations of the committee.
The preliminary observations and recommendations presented here are offered as an interim report to NASA on overarching issues that will remain critical regardless of near-term programmatic decisions. This interim report primarily emphasizes issues that were deemed to be of the greatest significance and interest to NASA management in light of the current particulars of each program area. Issues discussed in this report (and presented at the November dialogue session) are those the committee believes are not subject to change despite programmatic revisions being planned in various PRT programs between the November 2002 feedback session and the planned Spring 2003 re-visits. Overall consideration and assessment of balance and other crosscutting issues for the PRT program as a whole will be discussed in the final report after the committee completes it ongoing work. The committee notes that it refrained from drawing any conclusions on matters of budget or making recommendations for increases in budget levels. While some areas may suffer from a lack of critical mass, recommendations for increased resources to address the problem are of little value to management and thus are not made.
The committee found that the vast majority of the PRT program consisted of good, solid work that is important to NASA and the nation. Specifically, the committee judged that 90 percent of the PRT program fell into this category. Of those projects, the committee singled out 10 percent for special recognition. This 10 percent was work of the highest quality, representing truly world-class endeavors. The remaining 10 percent of the program was recommended by the committee for discontinuation or transition. Projects marked for transition were typically of high quality but involved technologies ready to be funded by a NASA mission or external partners. Projects marked for discontinuation were identified primarily based on a judgment about the quality of the work, although some of the tasks themselves appeared to be of little value to NASA or were poorly aligned with the stated goals of the PRT program.
The committee’s overall assessment of the research within PRT was made based on the individual assessments of the three supporting panels. Tasks judged by the committee to be outstanding met the following criteria: (1) evidence of productivity (publications, software, presentations, patents, mission-accepted technology); (2) strong linkage at the task level to actual flight projects, flight engineers, or science customers; (3) connectivity with other research communities external to NASA; and (4) external recognition of the research group as an authority in the subject matter. In some cases, excellence was also observed when basic research, facilities, systems analysis, flight integration, and test and evaluation were co-located or programs had achieved success over a period of 10 to 15 years and continued to do so. Areas of excellence and areas of concern, which will be addressed in the final report in more detail, are highlighted in the following paragraphs.
A separate panel of individuals was assigned to review each of the three programs within PRT: Computing, Information, and Communications Technology (CICT), Engineering for